Friday, November 7, 2014
Championship Hungry Santavicca Studies Foes Early And Often
On nights very much like Thursday night, most teenagers would find themselves enamored with Netflix movies or a highly-rated TV series.
Nick Santavicca is not like most teenagers--not by any stretch.
The bullish 5-foot-8, 175-pound back infuses Mike Rescigno's offense with potent, electric running and freakish athleticism.
Feeding off hard hits and gang tackles, keeping his feet moving amid the punishment, Santavicca relishes the ramped up contact.
He invites trash talk with open arms, vowing to answer with louder actions.
Rather than skimming through channels, Santavicca is breaking down film on high-flying Rye in preparation for Saturday's Section 1 championship game.
While flushed into a leadership role this season, the junior's rapid evolution as Section 1 guru has been a necessity.
He reviews the opponent with the same thoroughness that he does material for exams and mid-terms.
Keeping tabs on who beat who, Santavicca knows which squads ascended the rankings and which particular players erupted for a career day. He knows who got exposed and which defenses were picked apart. He knows who authored efficiency and who wobbled under pressure.
Dissecting the style of tacklers and defensive formations, the workload and extended time in the film room have worked its wonders.
Santavicca is as quick to acknowledge foes and players' strengths while reciting their weaknesses. His workaday research provides an adept read on "who's who" of the Section's top-flight talent.
When teammates need information or a semi-scout on a certain team, it's Santavicca or sophomore Jose Boyer called upon to supply it.
College and high school football has become akin to religion to the shifty, agile, and explosive back, who would make a seamless assimilation to Odessa, Texas.
Three days a week this summer, Santavicca worked with former Somers All-American halfback/defensive end Matt Deiana, refining his running style and ball skills.
When Rescigno hosted a pair of camps and the Huskers scrimmaged local area competition, Santavicca got an early feel for the enhanced role he'd take on.
Buoyed by speed and power, he stayed low to the ground and chewed up tough yards.
Absorbing more hits than a human pinball, going up against the likes of Justin Vega and Dan Delbene in everyday in practice helped pace his preparation.
Yorktown entered this season with a reputation of harvesting talent with a strong stable of seniors.
Few could have envisioned a 9-0 record, with just one team coming within a touchdown of the Huskers this season.
After playing a secondary role to the All-Section inside-outside punch of fullback Connor Vercruysse and halfback Eric Meyreles, Santavicca handily topped program legend Pete Cariello's single-season rushing record (1,382) with 1,506 yards.
Ducking his shoulder and cutting, zipping, evading, and mashing a bevy of tacklers aching to knock him off his path, Santavicca has been a handful.
And while re-scripting the single-season record books was a surprising feat, it's clear self-interest is non-existent with Santavicca.
He's quick to credit his line, which has provided a good push since the season-opening 33-6 bludgeoning of Eastchester.
While that now seems like eons ago, the focus hasn't faltered. Yorktown has said since Day 1 they won't be content until a championship is attained.
On Saturday, against Brown-bound dual threat and grenade launcher Andrew Livingston and sure-handed receiver Tim DeGraw, they'll have the opportunity.
Santavicca On Saturday's Championship Game
We are just going to play our game, that's all. We will add a few adjustments but that's it. Offense and defense will play the same way we always do.
On Assessing Rye
Well first, the obvious, they love throwing the ball. So we have to play strong pass defense, which we have been. Offensively, we'll just try to spread them out as much as possible and go from there.
On The Emotions Heading Onto A Stage Of This Magnitude
The feeling we have is just unbelievable.
All of us are so excited, but also very focused. We know we've got to play our best on Saturday..
On Buying In
We have all bought in tremendously. We try to play for one another and not ourselves. Our mindset is if you want to mess with one of our teammates, you've got to go through all of us first. That is our motto. We keep that going forever. I really think that it has helped a lot with our success.
On Outside Support
I always have family support for every game. Now everyone and former players are coming out to support us on Saturday which is just awesome. It's important because we are not just doing this for ourselves only, we are doing it for all the teams who didn't have the shot to win the Section.
On Studying Foes
I usually spend a decent amount of time paying attention to the whole Section and what's going on. Most of my time is devoted to studying the defense of our opponents.
On His Season And Establishing A New Single Season Rushing Record
To be honest, it was never my goal to break the single-season rushing record. My goal was to help my team win a Section 1 Championship--that's all. The line has played unbelievable and getting key blocks from other running backs and receivers down field has helped a lot too. The last part is just to be ready when I'm out there and do what I do best and really let the chips fall where they may.